Pet Therapy at Methodist Hospice Bring Patients Joy

Published On 07/07/2014

Most would agree that pets are good for the soul. But did you know that exposure to pets can positively affect a patient’s clinical status?

Research has shown that interactions with animals can create physical benefits such as lowering blood pressure and Mac McKinneyimproving cardiovascular health. The act of petting produces an automatic relaxation response, inducing a calming effect and, in some cases, reducing the amount of medication needed. Pets can also improve a patient’s mental health by lifting spirits and lessening depression, decreasing feelings of isolation, loneliness and anxiety, and providing comfort and reducing boredom.

Pet Therapy- Houston and Mac

For these reasons, Methodist Hospice provides regular Pet Therapy sessions for patients as part of our comprehensive approach to care for our patients. Most often, these sessions are conducted by certified Pet Therapy dogs and last anywhere from five minutes to 30 minutes.

One of our Pet Therapy teams is Houston and his partner, Mac McKinney (pictured). Houston has been a certified Pet Therapy dog for more than two years, after being rescued from a kill shelter in Arkansas by the Memphis Golden Retriever Rescue group. Houston “works” 20 hours a week to bring joy to both adult and pediatric facilities across the community. “Houston offers encouragement for patients; they look forward to visits from him,” McKinney says. “He brings a smile to their face and I have seen the appreciation that patients and their families have for the distraction from their illness or troubles.”

If you would like to learn more about the Pet Therapy program at Methodist Hospice, please contact Volunteer Specialist Lettie Blundon at 901.818.2107.